Help your customers avoid ‘shocking’ holiday driving

As your customers prepare for the holiday season, there are a number of checks you can do to make sure their vehicles are in safe operating condition.

As millions take to the roads for the holidays, only a fraction will remember to perform comprehensive inspections of key vehicle systems, including brakes, tyres, lights and shock absorbers. That’s right, shock absorbers. Many vehicle owners are surprised to learn that the primary role of a shock absorber is to help protect their safety through precise steering, stopping and stability characteristics in a full range of driving situations.

“Shock absorbers are often referred to as ‘ride control’ components within the automotive trade, because that term more clearly describes their true function,” said Brian Sanders, business support manager UK, for Monroe shocks manufacturer Tenneco Inc. “They help control how your vehicle reacts to the road under all driving situations, and play vital roles in keeping you safe by complementing the performance of your tyres, brakes and other steering and suspension components.”

Automotive service representatives recommend that shocks be thoroughly inspected and tested for wear at least annually and worn units replaced by at least 80,000 kilometers. It is important to follow this replacement benchmark because these components can lose their effectiveness in a very gradual and
almost imperceptible manner.

Think of how our eyesight changes throughout our lives – we might not notice the change from day to day, but after a year or two it can be quite significant, the same can be true of your shocks’ performance. As they wear out we are losing the steering, stopping and stability characteristics that help
us avoid accidents.

UNDERSTANDING THE ‘SAFETY TRIANGLE’

One way to understand the importance of properly functioning shock absorbers is through a vehicle system known as the ‘Safety Triangle’. This system of interconnected undercar components – including tyres, brakes, shocks and other steering and suspension parts – is the primary contributor to safe steering, stopping and stability.

One worn part in this system can compromise the effectiveness of the others, as seen in the following
influences of worn shocks:

  • Worn ride control components can affect steering by reducing tyre grip and permitting increased
    body sway;
  • They can affect stopping by allowing severe spring oscillation and permitting excessive weight
    transfer to the front wheels;
  • And they can affect stability by permitting excessive
    side-to-side weight transfer around curves.

Replacing worn shocks can also help protect other expensive vehicle components from premature wear. For example, worn shocks can accelerate brake-pad wear by permitting excessive back-to-front weight transfer during stops. They also can lead to abnormal wear of tyres and suspension components such as tie rods, ball joints and control arms.

However, make no mistake, the number one reason to replace worn shocks is to protect the safety of drivers and passengers, and this need is especially pressing as people take to the roads for the holiday season. “As millions of consumers plan their upcoming holiday trips, we urge them to add a comprehensive vehicle safety inspection to their preparations,” Sanders said. “This one added step can help keep them safer on the road and ensure that their holidays are as enjoyable and relaxing as they had hoped.”